The Toyota Racing Series (TRS) drivers and teams trekked south from Ruapuna Park to the southern most race circuit in the world, Teretonga Park Raceway, for their second of five consecutive race weekends.
Three of the five drivers that TSO is watching had improved weekends at 7-turn, 1.59 mile high speed circuit located that is located in the sandy environment along the beaches at the southern tip of New Zealand near the town of Invercargill.
Race 1 – 15 laps
PR: still waiting for some clean up before races start pic.twitter.com/6B2lZWd1vy
— William Owen (@Wowen23) January 23, 2016
After a delay to fix a guard rail that was badly damaged in an earlier race, the first of two 15 lap contests took to the grid with Ganassi Gen G pilot Devlin DeFrancesco (8th) qualifying the highest of “our” five drivers to watch. Unfortunately, that was the highlight of the day for the 15 year-old Canadian, as his day ended prematurely with an off-track excursion in tricky Turn 1 of Lap 1.
Juncos Racing Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire freshman Nicolas Dapero qualified 10th and originally finished 10th, but was promoted to 8th place when other drivers were penalized. TSO”s drivers of interest had the following final results:
- Will Owen – finished 10th after qualifying 15th
- Nicolas Dapero – finished 8th after qualifying 10th
- Timothe Buret – finished 14th after qualifying 16th (had finished in 8th, but was penalized 30 seconds for breach of driving standards)
- Devlin DeFrancesco – DNF after qualifying 8th
- Theo Bean – finished 12th after qualifying 18th
Despite being marred by two red flags, the first race of the weekend saw a good back-and-forth battle between previous race-winners Jehan Daruvala and Lando Norris. The Force India backed Daruvala was able to get by Norris for the final time with four laps left and hold on for his second trip to the top step of the podium. The two combatants for the win were joined on the podium by 18 year-old Polish pilot Antoni Ptak.
The second 15 lap contest of the weekend and first of two races on Sunday, once again saw Juncos Racing Pro Mazda rookie Dapero lead the way for “our” drivers. After starting in 8th, the 17 year-old was able to secure quality points by bringing home his No. 21 Toyota powered Tatuus to 7th, a series best (so far) for the Brazilian driver. TSO”s drivers of interest had the following final results:
- Will Owen – finished 9th after qualifying 10th
- Nicolas Dapero – finished 7th after qualifying 8th
- Timothe Buret – finished 11th after qualifying 14th
- Devlin DeFrancesco – finished 14th after qualifying 19th
- Theo Bean – finished finished 17th after qualifying 12th
After a podium in the first TRS weekend, Pedro Piquet, the son of three-time Formula One world Champion Nelson Piquet took his maiden victory in second race at Teretonga Park Raceway. The 17 year-old Brazilian who started the contest from pole was able to edge Norris and GP2 driver Artem Markalov.
The final race of the weekend was the 20 lap feature with the Sprit of Nation trophy up for grabs. After a rough start to the weekend that included a DNF in race #1 and a disappointing 14th in race #2, DeFrancesco was able to rebound and score his first TRS top five finish. TSO”s drivers of interest had the following final results:
- Will Owen – finished 13th after qualifying 17th
- Nicolas Dapero – finished 18th after qualifying 11th
- Timothe Buret – DNF after qualifying 16th
- Devlin DeFrancesco – finished 5th after qualifying 6th
- Theo Bean – finished finished 14th after qualifying 18th
Norris, the reigning MSA Formula champion is now four for four in scoring the quickest lap in the four qualifying sessions, and used his pole position to his advantage to hold off Kiwi veteran Brendon Leitch and Russian Markelov, who scored his fourth podium in six races. Norris, a 16 year-old Brit who was teammates with Colton Herta at Carlin in 2015 has an extremely busy 2016 planned. The multi-time world karting champion will once again be teaming with Herta as they move up to with Carlin to contest the BRDC Formula 4 championship. Norris will also take part in two Formula Renault 2.0 championships.
The Toyota Racing Series will be back in action at the undulating Hampton Downs Motorsport park next weekend, and TSO will be back next Monday with another update.
Points standings after six of 15 races
|1||Lando Norris||Great Britain||380|
|4||Brendon Leitch||Invercargill, NZ||300|
|9||Taylor Cockerton||Pukekohe, NZ||184|
|11||James Munro||Christchurch, NZ||169|